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Reclaiming Your Name

If you took the name of your spouse when you married, you can now choose to keep your current name or resume your former surname when you divorce. You might decide to retain your married name for a variety of reasons, such as maintaining consistency with your children or keeping your professional and social contacts. Conversely, reclaiming your former name can signify a new beginning or a return to your roots. The decision is entirely yours — your spouse has no say in the matter.

The name change process

To resume your surname, you can request the change in your final divorce decree. The court does not charge any additional fees when the name change is conducted during your divorce proceedings. You can still change your name after your divorce is finalized by filing a petition with the court for a fee. The judge may ask you whether you owe child or spousal support, have been convicted of a crime, filed for bankruptcy, have judgments or liens recorded against you or are involved in a lawsuit. If your answer is yes to one of these questions, the judge may conduct further inquiry to ensure your name change does not adversely affect other people’s rights.

An order that indicates your name does not automatically trigger changes to other important documents. You must apply to the appropriate agencies and organizations to update the information on your:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Green card
  • Professional license
  • Income tax documents
  • Human resources documents
  • Health insurance policy
  • Auto insurance policy
  • Retirement funds
  • Bank accounts

New York Name Change Law waives fees typically assessed by the state on applications to change a surname on a license, permit, registration and other documents if the request is based on a marriage or divorce. However, you might be charged by private companies, professional organizations or the federal agencies for documents they issue.

Divorce lawyer Bryan L. Salamone, Esq. helps you reclaim your name and your property during your divorce.

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